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Stephen Harper has proposed an elected Senate with 9 year non-renewable terms. This seems to be getting a lot of raspberries not only from the chattering classes (that's us), but also from the pundits, the press, and even the Conservative appointed Senators.

I myself believe in Senate reform, but I do not like Mr. Harper's proposal. Here's why...

First of all, Senate pensions kick in after 6 years. An electorate that sends somebody to the Senate is giving the gift that keeps on giving. What incentive is there for a Senator to even show up? Isn't that one of the beefs we've had all along? Useless Senators who just collect a paycheck.

Much better, IMHO, to have five year terms with re-election. A senator who does a good job for his or her constituents gets to go back for that all important 6th year. Otherwise, the senator will have little to show for 5 years of toiling in the red chamber.

Oh but wait! There's more!

If the senate is to serve as the "Chamber of Sober Second thought" (as we so often are told), then we need to take party politics out of the mix. I'd like to see a proposal for Senate reform in which Senators (and candidates) are not allowed to belong to political parties. This will take out the nasty political partisanship of the lower House and give the Senate an air of impartiality and credibility.

Secondly, I'd like to see media advertising forbidden for Senate elections. Media advertising brings money politics to the fore. Candidates win seats because they can afford more ads. Get rid of that. Let senate campaigns be about issues debated amongst candidates in public fora. The press does a good job (more or less) of reporting on candidates and what they have to say. Get rid of advertising and take propaganda out of elections. The British have done it and so should we.

Edited by eCitizen
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Much better, IMHO, to have five year terms with re-election. A senator who does a good job for his or her constituents gets to go back for that all important 6th year. Otherwise, the senator will have little to show for 5 years of toiling in the red chamber.

I'm pretty sure that this is evidence that you don't understand the purpose of the upper chamber. Non renewable terms constitute the best way to take politics out of the situation. In this way, Harper's proposal is very good. It's not good in that it isn't in any way binding (we'll see if the term limits are binding - the elections are most certainly not).

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I'm pretty sure that this is evidence that you don't understand the purpose of the upper chamber. Non renewable terms constitute the best way to take politics out of the situation.

Exactly.

eCitizen has, though, raised a point I've also considered: short, non-renewable terms for senators will mean a lot of pensions to pay for. Has any of this so called reform legislation even taken that into consideration?

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eCitizen has, though, raised a point I've also considered: short, non-renewable terms for senators will mean a lot of pensions to pay for. Has any of this so called reform legislation even taken that into consideration?

What does pension discussion matter to the actual Senate reform? You change the pensions to reflect the Senate, not the Senate to reflect the pensions. Anything else is madness.

Anyway, I no longer believe that electoral success has anything meaningful to do with job performance for the vast majority of MPs, so it would not really be doing anything objective or important to tie pensions directly to that success.

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What does pension discussion matter to the actual Senate reform?

It matters in that the proposed Senate reform could lead to unnecessary cost increases if the cost impact of the reform is not given due consideration during the reform process. I was merely asking if it had been or not.

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I'm pretty sure that this is evidence that you don't understand the purpose of the upper chamber. Non renewable terms constitute the best way to take politics out of the situation. In this way, Harper's proposal is very good. It's not good in that it isn't in any way binding (we'll see if the term limits are binding - the elections are most certainly not).

As far as I have been able to tell, the purpose of the Senate has been to reward the party faithful with life long sinecures. That's what we are trying to stop.

But as to its effect...

I think it could have a very important effect. It could stand for the will of the people outside of the distortions brought about by political parties.

I think that the Senate could serve a critical political role. I think it could serve as an expression of the will of the people, but only if we take party politics out of it.

Edited by eCitizen
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What does pension discussion matter to the actual Senate reform? You change the pensions to reflect the Senate, not the Senate to reflect the pensions. Anything else is madness.

very good point.

since the reforms call for a single nine year term, make minimum pension eligibility at about ten years of service. It would change the nature of candidates dramatically.

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I think that the Senate could serve a critical political role. I think it could serve as an expression of the will of the people, but only if we take party politics out of it.

The Senate already does server a critical political role, as has been outlined on numerous occasions on numerous threads regarding the senate. Suffice it to say, politicizing the role of the senate will not fix the issues most people have with it. The will of the people is already expressed via the commons, they represent the will (whim) of the day, that is why they have short terms as the will (whim) of the people changes frequently. The role of the senate is to take a long term view of legislation and compare evaluate it against regional concerns, the constitution and their own individual political experience. There is nothing wrong with long senate appointments, in fact in order to function as intended the senate must be long term and unassailable. Yes they may have been party hacks when appointed, but they can tell the PM to STFU and there's nothing the PM can do about it. Even if they do feel some loyalty to the current PM, that will pass when a new PM is elected in a 5-10 years.

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It could stand for the will of the people outside of the distortions brought about by political parties.

I think that the Senate could serve a critical political role. I think it could serve as an expression of the will of the people, but only if we take party politics out of it.

Firstly, it is the job of the House of Commons to represent the transient will of the majority of voters (not "the people"). We don't need a second chamber to perform the same function.

Secondly, elected senators will group together into parties no matter whether or not they're banned from being members of officially recognised political parties. Political parties grew out of like-minded parliamentarians grouping together in the nineteenth century. There's nothing to say the same won't begin all over again in your imagined Canadian Senate.

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Stephen Harper has proposed an elected Senate with 9 year non-renewable terms. This seems to be getting a lot of raspberries not only from the chattering classes (that's us), but also from the pundits, the press, and even the Conservative appointed Senators.

Screw Harper and whatever bullshit con game he's planning; here's your real Senate reform: NDP says Senate should be starved of funds

Edited by WIP
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Screw Harper and whatever bullshit con game he's planning; here's your real Senate reform: NDP says Senate should be starved of funds

The constitution requires a Senate and requires that it be filled, whether it has funds or not. A federation requires a bicameral parliament (even the Supreme Soveiet of the USSR was structured that way). That the NDP's elders can't grasp these simple concepts is why I can hardly ever take that party seriously.

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The constitution requires a Senate and requires that it be filled, whether it has funds or not. A federation requires a bicameral parliament (even the Supreme Soveiet of the USSR was structured that way). That the NDP's elders can't grasp these simple concepts is why I can hardly ever take that party seriously.

The NDP's elders grasp simple concepts just fine. You apparently don't grasp what the NDP is proposing. The NDP is well aware that a large chunk of the Senate's budget is statutory and cannot be axed. What they're talking about cutting is the $59.5 million of expenditures, which is not statutory, out of the $90 million annual budget.
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The NDP's elders grasp simple concepts just fine. You apparently don't grasp what the NDP is proposing. The NDP is well aware that a large chunk of the Senate's budget is statutory and cannot be axed. What they're talking about cutting is the $59.5 million of expenditures, which is not statutory, out of the $90 million annual budget.

Since their ultimate goal is abolition of the Senate (and this proposal of theirs is just a publicity stunt aimed towards that end), no, they apparently can't grasp either of the following simple concepts: a) the Senate can't be starved out of existence and B) a federation requires a bicameral parliament.

Edited by g_bambino
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If we got rid of the senate than that would make the PM the one with power and THAT is a bad idea. We know that Parliament is not perfer but must have the senate to make amends to Bills or the second thought as its named. I'm trying to figure out what Harper is trying to do, reform or get rid of the senate. At first, he said get rid of it but, now he's wants it reformed, or perhaps to reform it TO get rid of it?

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I think it is definately a constitional issue. Even though the Canadian constitution is all messed up by the last PC government - as well as the 1982 charter - everytime it gets opened up it gets more de facto and less de jure.

Normally constitutional ammendments represent already existing laws that are consolidated, not laws that are conjured up on a partisan basis to remove the previous institution.

I support creation of a new lower house to act as an advisory but there is no reason to remove institutions that have been in existence since parliament itself has existed.

I really think a lot of people don't want it (the majority) but chances are the party whiping will maintain. Fracture of the party now will cause bad blood unless they are going for purges.

But the more time that continues the more newly appointed senators there is. (In many ways the tories don't want senate reform because all the appointments have been partisan - but new senate appointments likely won't occur in time for the 5 or so provincial elections due (many of which would be swinging to Tory Blue potentially) This I think is part of the reason, but they want to push it in time for the provincial elections coming up in the fall.. I think though that even if this got pushed if government lasted 4 or so years... then there wouldn't be combined bills for election of nominated senators until after the next federal election in 5 of the 9 provinces.

The other catch of course is that the media is reporting these as senate appointments - which is traditionally the role of the Governor General, not the prime minister. - It is a power that is a letters patent issue and in the constitution- I think it is problematic if parliament is going to overide letters patent by a commons bill.

It is very bad because the Privy Council's role is so largely publically diminished. It turns the prime minsiters role into an executive role rather than an adminiistrative role. I think that is not the direction Canada deserve.

None the less LET THE WHIPS BREAK OUT, nothing like whipping an old man - it reminds me of the issues of the Mopan in the 1960's, where the young men overturned the aged.

(This is a very big thing to simply push through without PUBLIC debate and I'm not talking parliamentary debate, it is massive in terms of law in Canada as the SENATE CONTROLS THE SENATE... house unto itself.

It is actually an alteration of parliamentary rule to even think about doing this outside of the constitution.

The argument of course is the alteration of life to age 75, I think we need to look at how this came about prior... also the fact this isn't simply changing a retirement age it is changing the appointment process AND breaking division of powers by involving the provinces in the process. It is a breach of crowns.

THIS IS IN THE CONSTITITION ACT

Qualifications of Senator

23. The Qualifications of a Senator shall be as follows:

(1)

He shall be of the full age of Thirty Years:

(2)

He shall be either a natural-born Subject of the Queen, or a Subject of the Queen naturalized by an Act of the Parliament of Great Britain, or of the Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland, or of the Legislature of One of the Provinces of Upper Canada, Lower Canada, Canada, Nova Scotia, or New Brunswick, before the Union, or of the Parliament of Canada after the Union:

(3)

He shall be legally or equitably seised as of Freehold for his own Use and Benefit of Lands or Tenements held in Free and Common Socage, or seised or possessed for his own Use and Benefit of Lands or Tenements held in Franc-alleu or in Roture, within the Province for which he is appointed, of the Value of Four thousand Dollars, over and above all Rents, Dues, Debts, Charges, Mortgages, and Incumbrances due or payable out of or charged on or affecting the same:

(4)

His Real and Personal Property shall be together worth Four thousand Dollars over and above his Debts and Liabilities:

(5)

He shall be resident in the Province for which he is appointed:

(6)

In the Case of Quebec he shall have his Real Property Qualification in the Electoral Division for which he is appointed, or shall be resident in that Division.(13)

Summons of Senator

24. The Governor General shall from Time to Time, in the Queen's Name, by Instrument under the Great Seal of Canada, summon qualified Persons to the Senate; and, subject to the Provisions of this Act, every Person so summoned shall become and be a Member of the Senate and a Senator.

Questions as to Qualifications and Vacancies in Senate

33. If any Question arises respecting the Qualification of a Senator or a Vacancy in the Senate the same shall be heard and determined by the Senate.

STUFF LIKE THIS TO DO UNILATERIALLY IS VERY ISSUED

"Bill C-19, An Act to Amend the Constitution Act, 1867 "

It is clearly a constitutional ammendment - and if it is going to be really legitimate beyond fudge, it will require the ammending formula and consulatation with quebec and the queen.

The whole formula 750 thing.. 7 provinces 50% of the population... IT IS A MAJOR ISSUE.

750 + senate + Qeubec + the Monarchy should be the real story here

Edited by William Ashley
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Since their ultimate goal is abolition of the Senate (and this proposal of theirs is just a publicity stunt aimed towards that end), no, they apparently can't grasp either of the following simple concepts: a) the Senate can't be starved out of existence and B) a federation requires a bicameral parliament.

I think the ultimate goal is to please the Reform rump with unenforceable and meaningless Senate "reform". Harper can declare "You see, I'm working on that portfolio", meanwhile the legislation is utterly pointless, constitutional experts are divided on whether you can even alter Senator terms. The Tories have a couple that apparently think they can do it, others point to the Upper House Reference Opinion from 1980 which suggests that mucking around even with term limits alter the constitutional intent of the Senate, and thus may make even that most modest of changes impossible without a successful application of the 7/50 formula.

It's smoke and mirrors. This "legislation" couldn't be more useless and unenforceable if it was just a motion in the House. I hoe this waste Parliament's time on debating something so blatantly unconstitutional to please the chattering classes in the Conservative party isn't indicative of the kind of government we can expect for the next four years (based on another piece of constitutionally dubious legislation).

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It's all smoke and mirrors so we wouldn't pay attention to the fact that we single-handedly a a UN convention that would require warning labels on asbestos that is being exported.

I'm having trouble connecting those dots, particularly since Canada's position on asbestos has been consistent through several different governments.

Is there some sort of random response machine that just sort of pops out non sequiturs on request? I mean, your post is as sensible as "due to the price of oranges in China, your hair will turn red."

Edited by ToadBrother
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I think the ultimate goal is to please the Reform rump with unenforceable and meaningless Senate "reform". Harper can declare "You see, I'm working on that portfolio", meanwhile the legislation is utterly pointless, constitutional experts are divided on whether you can even alter Senator terms. The Tories have a couple that apparently think they can do it, others point to the Upper House Reference Opinion from 1980 which suggests that mucking around even with term limits alter the constitutional intent of the Senate, and thus may make even that most modest of changes impossible without a successful application of the 7/50 formula.

It's smoke and mirrors. This "legislation" couldn't be more useless and unenforceable if it was just a motion in the House. I hoe this waste Parliament's time on debating something so blatantly unconstitutional to please the chattering classes in the Conservative party isn't indicative of the kind of government we can expect for the next four years (based on another piece of constitutionally dubious legislation).

That's the Conservatives' goal, yes: meaningless legislation that gives the appearance of reform; I refer, again, to the "fixed election" amendment to the Elections Act. Though, if these bills are defeated by the Senate, Harper can't blame it on Liberal senators. And, if the laws are struck down by the Supreme Court, can Harper blame it on Liberal activist judges?

Regardless, what I was speaking about in the post you quoted was the goal of the NDP: abolition of the Senate. It's a preposterous idea and I can't believe there's more than one career politician in the NDP who can say with a straight face that Canada would be a better federated country with a legislature that operates solely by the fleeting whims of the majority and is devoid of a regional voice, as well as being more under the control of the PMO. Pat Martin is an ass to whom this is - like most everything else for him - a matter of class warfare; I can accept that he never thought about, because he doesn't care about, the negative impacts on the legislative process. But, what of the others in the party? Jack Layton and David Christopherson, for instance; they don't seem like unintelligent men. So, what gives?

[+]

Edited by g_bambino
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Secondly, I'd like to see media advertising forbidden for Senate elections. Media advertising brings money politics to the fore. Candidates win seats because they can afford more ads. Get rid of that.

Typical far left idealism's:

Ban this.

Ban that.

Regulate this.

Regulate that.

Setup a new this.

Setup a new that.

... it will only cost a few million..

And when this is done, everything will turn out just the way I want it. If not... well.. we'll cross that path when we come to it and make more rules and regulations and spend more money.

How about this.

ABOLISH THE DAMN SENATE

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ABOLISH THE DAMN SENATE

Mindless barking. You haven't given one thought to the consequences of such an action.

I disagree with the National Post's endorsement of the current Senate reform bills (they seem to have forgotten about the amending formula that was inserted into the constitution between the 1960s and the present), but the editorial board put this right:

In any event, getting rid of the Senate isn't the right choice: A federation as diverse and far-flung as Canada's, with so much of its population highly concentrated in its two central provinces, needs a counterbalance to representation-by-population in the Commons.

[+]

Edited by g_bambino
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Get elected. Then we'll talk.

I am considered a crimminal...by the established powers that be. IF I was born of privlede and from the right family - I could be a legal crimminal and run for office...but nooooooo....I am not welcome even though I have something to offer...Those with little to offer are embraced and exhalted. All I know about the sentate is that it consists of people that were mostly born with privledge and money. It is an honorary position for the old rich. To reform the senate would be like attempting to reform the American electorial process - that only allows those with millions to play the game.

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